Restaurants now open at 75% capacity, feel left out of curfew lift

New York News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Beginning Friday,  New York state is allowing 75% capacity at restaurants that have been operating at 50% capacity under COVID-19 guidelines. Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement earlier this month, saying the data has shown that restaurants can operate safely and in accordance with strict health protocols.

Beginning April 5, gyms, movie theaters, bowling alleys, casinos, and billiards halls will be able to stay open past 11 p.m. The curfew remains in place for restaurants, bars, and catered events.

Ross Mueller owns restaurants Native and Label 7 in Rochester. He said that while he’s happy for businesses that can stay open later, he’s frustrated for the restaurant industry. “When they limit those hours to strictly us we’re getting that feeling that we’re being isolated from everybody else in this whole situation,” he said.

Restaurants will have to continue to close by 11 p.m. with the exception of pickup and takeout, which can go on later. Mueller said he’d normally stay open until 12:30 or 1 a.m.

“We’re not gonna have a huge crowd to begin with, so we’d like to see the crowd that’s already there be able to stay and enjoy their evening to its entirety,” Mueller said. “They’re paying for an experience. They’re paying at a time when we need it most.”

Kicking people out early is something Batavia Downs also had to deal with the past several months, but now it’ll be able to stay open later beginning April 5. .

“People want to be out later than 10:00. Almost every night when we had people leaving at 10 we had a lot of complaints, people are just looking for things to do. The extension to 11 a few weeks ago was good, but to go back to regular hours it’s really, really important to our business,” said Henry Wojtaszek, the president and CEO at Batavia Downs.

Wojtaszek said they’ll be open until 1 a.m. Sunday-Thursday and 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday, but the restaurants and bars inside will have to close at 11 p.m. “This Friday, Syracuse is gonna play at 9:40 we’re gonna have to shoo people out of the restaurant and bar at 11 o’clock, at halftime,” he said.

The state said it will give updated guidance on restaurants sometime in April.

Batavia Downs will also be able to have 2,000 people at its summer concerts after the governor’s announcement Thursday expanding capacity for event venues to 20%.

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